BASW: Social workers need same online protection as celebrities

Social workers and other child protection professionals are at risk of personal harm unless action is taken to protect them from online attacks, BASW says

Tom Daley received police support after online attack Pic: Rex Features

Social workers and judges should be given the same protection from social media attacks as celebrities and wealthy individuals, the British Association of Social Workers said today.

The call follows a successful campaign by social workers to remove a number of online hate sites that published the identities of professionals involved in child protection, including social workers, judges and family court guardians, alongside Nazi imagery.

The sites also featured the names, pictures and personal addresses of several professionals. Yet so far no action has been taken by authorities.

Police should give their protection the same priority as that of diver Tom Daley and premiership referee Mark Halsey – both involved in recent high profile online attacks – BASW and its trade union arm the Social Workers Union (SWU) said today.

“This libellous publication of information and opinion on the internet is equivalent to spreading unedited opinion in a newspaper or on television,” said David Allan, acting assistant general secretary of SWU.

He said a responsible employer should regard it as a type of assault and have “very clear procedures as to how to deal with members of the public who are abusive to, or who assault, their employees to whom they have a duty of care”.

The union is encouraging employers to press for legal action against the site’s creator, “as a clear message that this type of abuse will not be tolerated”.

Bridget Robb, acting chief of BASW, said the organisation believes it knows the identities of those behind the sites and will be passing the details on to police.

“We will continue to press for action every time a site emerges, until they are stopped,” Robb said. “We will also be asking the Association of Directors of Children’s Services and the Ministry of Justice to contribute to this debate, and reminding employers once more of their duty of care towards their social workers.”

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